Click on the image to download a PDF of the analysis.

Two professors—Robert Greenwald of Harvard Law School and David R. Holtgrave of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health—published “A SWOT Analysis of the Updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the U.S., 2015–2020” as an editorial in the journal AIDS and Behavior.

A SWOT analysis is a method typically used by businesses to identify their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and as such Greenwald and Holtgrave organize their editorial in these categories.

Launched in 2010, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) is the nation’s blueprint for fighting the epidemic. An update to the strategy was released this summer, taking us to the year 2020.

Internal strengths of the NHAS, according to the authors, include its references to recent scientific advancements such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the importance it places on making HIV care and treatment affordable, and the balance the NHAS strikes between the needs of the general population and those disproportionately affected by the epidemic.

As far as internal weaknesses go, “the updated NHAS does not include quantitative estimates of the population size of unmet service needs, estimates of the necessary resources to meet those needs, or estimates of the public health return on investment of such resources,” the authors write. They point out that although the strategy highlights the importance of PrEP, it is vague on how to pay for implementing PrEP. Similarly, it offers “relatively few concrete recommendations as to how to address existing barriers to care and treatment that are pervasive in this country.”

External factors—the “opportunities” and “threats” aspect of the SWOT analysis—listed in the article include the NHAS’s ability to “re-energize what we believe is a sagging sense of urgency about HIV.”

One of the main threats to achieving the NHAS’s goals is a lack of financial resources devoted to HIV programming.

You can read the more about the SWOT analysis from the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School.